Meet Patient, Laurie H.

November 19, 2021
Meet Patient, Laurie H.

What was your cancer diagnosis and how was it discovered? 

I have non-Hodgkins lymphoma in my neck. Over Labor Day weekend, 2021, my neck started hurting and I thought I pulled a muscle. By Sunday night, it was so swollen, I couldn't turn my head. I went to Urgent Care and they immediately sent me to the ER. After 11 hours of waiting for a room, two CT scans, and lots of blood tests, I found out what I had.

What is the biggest piece of advice you have for newly diagnosed patients or supporters of newly diagnosed patients?

Try not to panic. Tell only people you trust. DON'T go down the rabbit hole of "what-if's"; it will cause stress. Have that good cry and get the grief out of your system first, then pull up your big-girl panties (or boy-panties) and head into battle.

What is the most important thing you have learned from your cancer experience?

The most important thing I learned is to practice self-love. Go easy on yourself, keep a journal of how you are feeling emotionally and physically. Don't use Dr. Google. Just don't. It will only confuse you. On the other hand, do your research about your condition on trusted websites. Your type of cancer may or may not be common, but YOU are not common.

Everyone reacts differently to medications and the personalities of their care team. Find a doctor you can talk to and relate to. So important to be your own advocate, even if you have a spouse or significant other like I do. Only I know what I am feeling and experiencing and, even though my husband is supportive, it's my body and my illness. So, speak up and don't be shy with your medical team. Every question for which you don't know the answer is important and should be asked.

I have become incredibly picky about whom I choose to spend my time with. I am estranged from one of my daughters, sister, brother, father, and my mother passed from Covid in December. I learned that blood relatives are not always the best support system. Their reaction to my diagnosis was one of telling me it was karma, doing its job. Long story. Most important for me is working with a spiritual healer. I learned there is definitely a mind-body connection to dis-ease. We work weekly to get to the root cause of my lymphoma. It has made a huge difference in the speed of my healing, not only physically, but emotionally.

What was the most difficult aspect of organizing care / community?

The most difficult thing was waiting for test results and trying to understand why they were doing things in the order they did. I learned after I got to know my oncologist that I could trust her way of doing things, but made it very clear to her that I need to know why she was ordering this test or that test. So having patience was really hard for me.

What are a few things that you couldn't live without during treatment? 

My daily journaling. My daily affirmations. Lots of water. The fantastic nurses at City of Hope -Thousand Oaks, CA Napping when I am tired. Changing up my diet; removing all processed sugar and food that is not high in alkaline. Walking daily, even when I am dead tired from treatment. Only sharing my diagnosis with the people I want to know. Three Facebook support groups. They are my new online friends and a wonderful support system. Giving myself grace when I am tired and can't do the things I used to do without a second thought. Getting rid of virtual "friends" that I realize are not really my friends.

What are three words you would use to describe your cancer journey? 

HUMBLING | EYE OPENING | LIFE CHANGING

About Laurie

Laurie is an ex-CEO, baby boomer, transplanted Michigander, living in Southern California. She works daily on accepting her diagnosis with humor, lots of laughter, and deepening her beliefs that our bodies can heal if our mindset is positive.

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